Saturday 20 January 2018

True greats don't waste time basking in successes

Jockey Tony McCoy
Jockey Tony McCoy

Joe Malloy

A quote from the impossibly great AP McCoy has stayed with me. It was after his 4,000th winner in November 2013. "How do you feel?" they all asked. His answer was "proud, for the first time".

That flummoxed me a bit. Can you imagine the torment he has forced himself through? To never sit back and be proud somewhere along the way?

The psychology of delayed gratification is well established at this stage. Malcolm Gladwell has popularised the theory that children who can resist a sweet on their desk in return for a bonus sweet tend to do better in life.

Everywhere we look in sport we see it at play. McCoy has lots of contemporaries. Last year, I asked Ronan O'Gara about the time Conor Murray had made a big, costly mistake against Racing Metro.

ROG had sat down beside him afterwards in the dressing-room. Murray expected a bollocking. Instead, ROG cracked a joke, "That was some brain-fart, kid!" Murray got the message.

So I put it to ROG that you can't let those mistakes destroy you, is the point? He paused: "Ah no, you have to let them destroy you a little bit." These kids didn't eat the sweet.

Irish Independent

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